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tv   Democracy Now with Amy Goodman  PBS  September 29, 2010 11:00pm-12:00am PST

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with chris mcgreal from "the guardian." mudslide in mexico berries and indigenous town in oaxaca. we will speak with david riker. "the warmth of other suns: the epic story of america's great migration." we will speak with pulitzer prize-winning author isabel wilkerson who chronicles one of the great untold stories of american history, 6 million african-americans who fled the south for northern and western cities from 1915 until the 1970's. all of that and more coming up. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. a federal appeals court has ruled u.s. corporations can no longer be sued for human rights
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violations abroad under the longstanding alien tort statute. and a little notice drilling thisonth, the second u.s. court of appeals ruled that alien tort claims can only be brought against individuals, not corporations. the ruling dismissed a lawsuit accusing the oil giant royal dutch shell of complicity in the murder and torture of nigerian activists including ken saro- wiwa. in a separate opinion, second circuit judge criticized the ruling writing --
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a federal appeals court has issued a temporary order reinstating government funding for embryonic stem cell research. on tuesday, the u.s. court of appeals for the district of columbia circuit issued a stay of a lower court injunction that blocked the obama administration's reversal of bush-era restrictions on stem cell funding. the lower court had ruled the funding violates a 1996 law prohibiting federal money for any research that destroys or threatens human embryos. the funding will be restored pending the administration's appeal. in iraq, a u.s. soldier is in custody after allegedly fatally shooting two other soldiers and wounding another in fallujah last week. the military says the soldiers had gotten into a verbal altercation that turned violent. the passengersf a jewish aid boat prevented from reaching the gaza strip are accusing the israeli military of excessive force. tuesday, eight of the nine activists aboard the jewish boat
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to gaza ship irene were released after being apprehended miles off the gaza coast. they were attempting to deliver a symbolic load of humanitarian aid to break the israeli siege. israeli activist and former israel air force pilot yonatan shapira said he was beaten and shocked with a taser gun. the crux they wer very brul to us. -- >> there were very brittle to us. they did not kill us, but i did get shot with an electric taser and brutally treated just like my brother. we were detained pretty violently and then later we were released and then they blame us or accused us of attacking the soldiers, threatening the soldiers. of course, everything is a complete lie. >> other passengers included the
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82-year-old holocaust survivor and israeli resident moskovitz who lived under nazi occupation as a child in romania. >> we're talking about 1.5 million people, 800,000 children. when i was a child, i was in prison for five years and i cannot forget it. i have nightmares that have haunted me all my life. do you know what we're doing to these people in gaza? what we're doing to our soldiers? >> the jewish boat to gaza was the latestpt to break the blockade since israel's deadly attack on an aid flotilla in may. a convoy of some 45 vehicles carrying aid has arrived in turkey on its way to gaza from europe. the convoy, dubbed viva palestinia, will attempt to reach gaza next month. a british activist said is attack on the flotilla motivated him to take part. >> what they did to those innocent activists on board the mavi marmara, and as people that
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died, they are heroes. i decided i must make a stand and come to gaza and take medical aid to relieve the people from their terrible suffering. >> pakistan is warning it will stop protecting nato supply routes to afghanistan if the u.s. continues to stage cross border attacks. more than 70 alleged militants have been killed in recent strikes from u.s. apache helicopters crossing the afghan border. according to the associated press, pakistani officials have told nato leaders in brussels they will not tolerate attacks from manned aircraft. out 80% of nato's non-lethal supplies in afghanistan are delivered through pakistan. in other news from pakistan, thousands of people rallied in karachi on tuesday to protest the sentencing of the pakistani neuroscientist in u.s. court. siddiqui was sentenced last week to 86 years in prison for shooting her -- at her american interrogators while jailed in afghanistan. her conviction has been widely
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criticized in pakistan where she is believed to have been innocent and mistreated in u.s. detention. pakistani political leader farooq sattar called for the repatriation of siddiqui. >> and intervention by president obama and the u.s. administration that they must immediately withdraw the cases against siddiqui. they must declare the sentence now and avoid an order for the release of siddiqui and she must be sent back home unconditionally. >> republican senator tom coburn has been identified as the lawmaker responsible for holdi up over $900 million in congressional approved aid for haiti. supplemental request for haiti reconstruction passed the senate in may and the house in july, but a measure to direct how the money is spent was held up after it was anonymously tabled for further review. the associated press reports
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that senator coburn, a doctor, pulled the measure over concerns about a $5 million provision that he says could waste taxpayer dollars. the u.s. has not delivered a cent of the 1.1 $5 billion in new aid for haiti a pledge to earlier this year. at the six people were killed and over a thousand tarps and to bring shelters were destroyed when a storm hit the capital last week. the prominent colombian senator has spoken out about her removal from the colombian senate and 18-year ban from public office. inspector general ousted her last week for allegedly aiding members of the farc. cordoba has been a leading critic of former president uribe and the u.s.-backed drug war in colombia. her mediation efforts have helped three hostages held by the farc. tuesday, she vowed to remain in talks with the rebels. >> to all the hostages in the
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world and the country, to all of this hostages of the farc and eln, they have to be sure this will not intimidate us or make this retreat, that this will not scare me, that we will not leave the families alone. and to those listening to me in the jungle, you can be sure even if it comes to that point and i go to jail, my voice will be heard from jail -- sovereign, strong, to insist on the necessity of the need for peace. >> a new study is getting more than one-fifth of the world's plant species are at risk of extinction. the index as 22% of almost 4000 species are threatened with human induced habitat loss the cause of over 80% in the cases. stephen hopper said "we cannot sit back and watch plant species disappear -- plansre the basis of all life on earth, providing clean air, water, food and fuel.
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all animal and bird life depends on them, and so do we." protests are continuing nationwide against the fbi for raiding eight homes and offices of anti-war activists in minneapolis and chicago last week. tuesday, hundreds of people rallied in at least a dozen cities including philadelphia, washington, d.c., los angeles and san francisco. in new york, and activist a part in a demonstration outside the federal building. >> i lived in chicago for eight years and i know everyone who was raided this past friday. they are dear friends of mine. some have children in kindergarten, some have babies. i remember when they were not even married. they are hard-working and activists. we need to make sure that no one in any movement turns their back on these folks because that is what the bureau wants us to do. it wants to ruin their lives and make as many anti-war activists on people -- turn their backs on people.
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>> those are some of the headlines. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. a u.s. soldier charged with murdering civilians and other crimes in afghanistan made his first appearance in a military court in washington state monday. army specialist jeremy morlock is the first of 12 u.s. soldiers accused of forming a secret kill team in afghanistan that murdered unarmed afghan civilians at random and collected body parts, such as fingers, for trophies. there also accused of using hashish, dismembering and photograph in corpses, and possessing human bones such as a skull and leg bones. earlier this year, morlock was interviewed by army investigators and acknowledged his role in the deaths of the three afghans which took place in kandahar between january and may. video of part of his confession to army investigators has been leaked to the media.
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in the video, and have to listen carefully, morlock admits staff sergeant calvin gibbs ordered him to kill an innocent unarmed afghan civilian. >> on monday, his attory, geoffrey nathan, defended him saying morlock was taking a variety of prescription drugs issued by the military to treat injuries he sustained in battle. he also linked the killings to overall u.s. policy in afghanistan. >> we believe a jury will exonerate more like as a consequence of both a failed
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policy, a failed medical practice to have it with the failed policy. why are we still in afghanistan? what are we accomplishing over there other than taking good kids through mtiple tours of duty, extending them, and merging them, and then frankly, ruining them. this family has been torn apart by this and it is unfair to them. he should never have been there at all. he did not need to be there and we will leave the combination of a failed policy emanating from the white house and the demonstrative scientific evidence that i put forward today will indeed exonerate more lot. >> the army is attempting to prevent the release of dozens of photraphs that reportedly show jeremy morlock and other soldiers posing with the murdered afghan civilians. a top army official recently ordered that any images of dead or wounded afghans may not be made public during more lot's
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hearing. he's a first of five soldiers accused of murder, several others are accused of tried to block the investigation. chris mcgreal has been following this story and joins us on the line from washington, d.c. welcome to "democracy now!" can you lay out how the story was expos and what is ppening now with this hearing? who is the kill team? >> the kill team, organized killing of civiliansto u be premeditated. if we believe the accounts of some of the soldiers involved including the jeremy morlock, it was instigated by the staff sergeant calvin gibbs after he arrived from a tour of duty in iraq. in discussions in which he was said to have sounded outhe otr members of his unit, to do something along these lines
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whiche seems to have done as well in iraq. he implied he did this kind of thing in iraq. he talked about setting up a kill team within his unit and who might be interested. jeremy morlock, who was a specialist at the time -- and army specialist at the time, seems to have sided with calvin gibbs and other soldiers were brought in. they simply said about identifying innocent afghans who when they were on patrol they would pluck out is because they felt like it set about killing them. in some cases, one particular man which jeremy morlock talks about, was taken from his home and told to stand against a wall. he was not given -- he was not armed or a threat or told why he been taken out of his home. the injury more like -- then to
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me more like in gibbs went to the otheside of the wall and dropped a grenade over. they went around in the man was still alive, so they shot him. it seems to be a practice that calvin gibbs brought from iraq and felt he could get away with it. it was eventually uncovered because one member of the unit knew about it and had noticed there was heavy drug use or regular drug use come anyway, and went to report it. when he did, word got back to calvin gibbs and others and they beat him up and try to prevent them from reporting anything else. he went back to other officers and once was talking about why he been beaten up, which was over the drugs, then the information about the kill team came out. >> the hearings are taking place at joint base was mccord in washington state. the soldiers in the third platoon of a company of what is
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now the second structure brigade? >> yes, that is right a >> talk about the soldier who contacted his father. >> the army is saying that the fact the moved so swiftly once they were informed about all of this, then moved swiftly to break up the kill team and using evidence that this kind of conduct is not tolerated inside the military, but it seems at least two dead soldiers had in one way or another contacted the authorities in one case contacted a parent to say this was going on. the information did reach back to the military and initially seemed not to have acted upon and. certainly, the information filtered up within the unit of
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calvin gibbs and nothing seems to have been done. it would seem there is some merit to the claim it was initially covered up. because if we look at the charges, although five soldiers are charged with murder, seven others are charged with essentially trying to cover-up the crime, which means at least 12 soldiers within the unit knew it was going on. it is highly likely a lot more knew about it. >> this was a specialist at one filled, 21 years old, who told his father -- the father said he tried to contact the base. he was told that dam, the soldier, had to report to mr. -- adam, the soldier, had to report to his superiors but his superiors were part of it and he was afraid of them. >> it seems this case was only dealt with when it moved outside of the authorities, immediately
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responsible for this unit in kandahar. with other investigators were brought in, principally over the assault of the soldier reporting the drug use, then it moved beyond the unit in the military authorities in kandahar and became part of -- harder for the military tcontain it. >> chris mcgreal, what about the photographs? we know what happened with all the grade. president obama has sided with the bush and ministration in not allowing the release of other photos. -we know what happened with abu ghraib. president obama has sided with the bush administration in not allowing the release of other photos. what is this evidence of exactly? >> i have not seen the photos, but we do have descriptions. essentially, what they appear to be is a series of photos in which ad afghans are treated as though they are hunting trophies with soldiers posing by
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them as though they have been on safari in africa a century ago, which of course, is very demeaning of the dead in the pictures. i am sure the military and american authorities do not want it to come out because i suspect it will be the telling -- it will be detailing what many afghans already feel, that there isn't indifference to all life including afghan civilian life- that there is indifference to all life including afghan civilian life. we do not know -- i personally do not know how many voters there are and who exactly is in them, although it is known there quite a few of them. it does seem to have been part of the regular practice. there seems to have been a culture of this as part of how this unit went about its dly
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dues. >> according to craig wedlock and the "washington post," digital photographs of the corpses and soldiers posing with them circulated widely among unit holders to store the images on laptops and some drives. investigators have tried to collect damages, but army officials are concerned it to become a hub like and possibly inflame tensions among afghans. several other soldiers have given statements saying hashish was rampant in the unit and that some members kept afghan finger and leg bones as trophies. chris mcgreal? >> it is clear this is all part of a much bigger culture. i suppose if he had a staff sergeant who rise from iraq send you would like to carry on doing what he did in iraq, it is clear this is much wider than just this unit.
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the yet they seem to -- they appear to have been feeling free to do what they liked, to select a victim's. one of the prosecutors has said this is killing for sport. the collected trophies, the fingers and bones and the school, and they took photographs of their kills, next to their kills. >> chris mcgreal, this story was breaking to now hold terry jones scandal -- during the whole terry jones scandal, the pastor who was going to burn the koran. but this is so much more explosive and involves some any other people.
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this has been brewing for a while. the hearings have already started on the base, but it has gotten very little attention in the united states. >> it seems to have gotten a little more recent attention, but it is not clear to me why because it was written about by the press in seattle when the charges were first made back in may. it has been written a little bit in the associated press. it is only now that it has caught the attention. i am not entirely sure why that is. but as you say, it seems to have been a long time coming. >> i know you have to go, but you have written about the afghan president karzai breaking down and crying, talking about not wanting his son to a refugee, wanting afghans to able to stay in afghanistan. talk more about what to place. >> he was actually at a school
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for international literacy day, the came on the day there were launching the high peace council, which essentially will be the body that is going to try and negotiate the taliban and other insurgents and just bring an end to this war. karzai broke down while appealing to the people of afghanistan to find some sense, as he put it, and put an end to this conflict. it was obviously a very emotional speech and he feels because he spent some years in exile himself the first of the soviet invasion of afghanistan and the remaining in exile during the taliban rule, and his own father was murdered by the taliban. he knows the experience of exile and being victimized. his appeal was a reflection that he actually does done have much
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confidence now this this conflict is going or the way this conflict is being conducted is going into with the taliban been defeated. he is facing reality that there has to be a deal with the taliban in the end. and the only way to bring into the conflict is to bring all afghans on board. it was very hard field. >> chris mcgreal, td for joining us, washington correspondent for "the guardian" in what london. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. when we come back, mudslide in mexico. an indigenous community is inundated with mud. we will speak with filmmaker david riker. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. an indigenous town in the southern state of oaxaca has been married -- buried in mud.
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access to the remote and impoverished town has been restricted with roads and bridges washed out by the rain or blocked by landslides bit of initial estimates suggested hundreds of people could be dead and up to 1000 people trapped in their homes, but mexican a party say now only 11 people have been confirmed missing. this is the oaxacan governor ulises ruiz. >> at this moment, there are 11 missing, supposedly eight children and three childreand a. -- and three adults. i hope the information keeps changing and the missing are alive. the information i have to changing, fortunately. the situation is not what i thought it was.
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>> the heavy rains and landslides are thought to be taught -- caused by tropical storm mathew, which killed 12 people in central america over the weekend. but the northern mountains of oaxaca are also among the most deforested areas in the country. the town is home to some 9000 indigenous people and as the center of mixed indigenous culture, well known for its musical traditions. we go to oaxaca by videostream to filmmaker david riker whose films include "la ciudad" and "sleepdealer." welcome to "democracy now!" first come to describe what is happening in oaxaca. >> good morning. we woke up this morning to the news that the informal disaster own him mostly was nothing like -- disaster was nothing like we had feared. yesterday was a grim feeling in oaxaca city as many of the
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people here in what this city are from [unintelligible] and there's no communication with the village. but it seems that the town escaped the tragic fate that had been suggested and that it may be as little as 11 or 12 people missing right now and there are no confirmed deaths. but just of the listeners understand, the rains here in much of southern mexico and oaxaca have been an ending. it has rained very heavily for the past four days and nights. in the city itself, it felt almost biblical. i have more than once been driving with the water almost coming in through the doors of the car and watching cars driving off into the gulch because the rain becomes so intense. bridges all over the state have been broken or fractured.
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in oaxaca city, the bridge to the airport has been fractured, which is causing a lot of problems. three other bridges that are very important access roads to the city have been broken where rivers have broken the banks. so there is a sense of helplessness in the city and a sense there is no functioning authority to address any of the problems. drivers, instead -- they just are driving on sidewalks. the only real help for those who lost homes in oaxaca city, somewhere between 5000-20,000 people have been made homeless in the last eight days, since the first heavy rains a week ago sunday, and our children are asked to bring canned goods to school and neighborhood centers are being set up for people to
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bring donatns, but there is a nse the state itself is not functioning, it is invisible. >> the issue of this community, can you describe that for us, its significance of mexico? >> santa maria tiahuitoloepec is in the mountainous region. they're proud to say there are the only ones in mexico who were ver conquered by the snish what is important today, it is the most important center of traditional indigenous music in mexico, and it is the center of a music school and training program that is one of its kind in the country and in fact, the students and teachers have gone to another area where the
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indigenous region is said up a very similar school and that is the second most important musical center of its kind. it has an importance to us beyond the fact that it is one of many hundreds of small villages because it is seen as a place that is preserving indigenous culture and a very, vibrant way -- and a very, very vibrant way. the thought the whole village have been buried was overwhelming for all of us yesterday. >> david riker, the issue of global warming, of why this has happened, what caused the mudslide, of deforestation and other issues? >> it is important to remember that just a few months back, will haunt the was suffering
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from a total lack of water. in neighborhoods all over what the city, people were going up to 20 days without any water. that means the water that is sent in from the central system simply was not sent in, no water comes into the taps. the only option for bathing or washing is to buy water from water trucks, which is very expensive, far too expensive for most people. next year, it will be the same thing. there will be battles and fights over lack of water. we have these extremes. not talking about the media probms othe floods, the real problem is the lack of water. -not talking about the immediate problems with these floods, the real problem is a lack of water.
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people need to be a to water their crops. in one of the more interesting contradictions of oaxaca, and the seven central valley, about an hour from oaxaca city, farmers have been told they are not allowed to dig wells anymore. and they, the farmers, have said the reason is that the water from their out over -- offer is being diverted to one of the big mining projects. -- aquifers is being diverted to one of the big mining projects. you're the situationherere is no big water making it to the urban city. oaxaca has a population of about 3 million. one-third of the oaxacan people are in the united states, the vast majority in california. one-third are in oaxaca city,
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which was a small, tditional, historic city not long ago. now it is sort of a huge, enormous third world city. people have not been able to support themselves in their villages. and the sort of irony is these are fruits of nafta 15 years on, that there is an enormous migration to the u.s. and to a hot this city, but also that -- and to oaxaca city, but also that there are battles now. the deforestation, the northern mountain range has been heavily deforested. what i guess i would like to add is that the main feeling you get living here is that any hope
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comes from below, that the state in the institutions of the state are either completely nonexistent or nonfunctioning and not all interested in dealing in addressing any of these problems. the people of the local level, the neighborhood level, are. for example, one of the most inspiring things i have seen since living near is the language villages themselves are reforesting their own mountains. as a family, we have been on these reforestation programs were villages are literally planting up to 10 million trees, pine trees, and in another region, one of the most extraordinary programs under way that has been recognized by the goldman environmental prize, is a group who are using ancient
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indigenous traditional farming techniques to restore water to the acquifer by digging canals that run along the contours of the mountains. they have been doing it now for 20 years and are seeing results , were there turned highly eroded and barren land into a green, agricultural havens. they're doing it with pick axes and shovels. so you have a picture in oaxaca of the weather extremes, no doubt come and i know one of our friends told me yesterday that her daughter in school was encouraged to press yesterday, the whole class was encouraged to play because of the reins. many of the people i've spoken to the last few days from other areas say something similar, that all we can do is pray. but it is clear that what really
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needs to be done is to organize and to begin addressing the human reasons for this. the rain alone is not causing this devastation. the deforestation in the mountains, the lack of any investment in social infrastructure in the city, the sense of a total administrative chaos as a rule of thumb in oaxaca means that none of these problems are being addressed. there's no plan for addressing the future and it is going to get worse in oaxaca and all of southern mexico. >> david riker, thank you for being with this, arican filmmaker basedn oaca, mexico, whose films include "la ciudad" and "sleepdealer." this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we will move from migration to
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migration. remarkable book out by pulitzer prize-winning journalist isabel wilkerson called "the warmth of other suns: the epic story of america's great migration." stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are broadcasting on close to 900 stations. video and audio podcasts are available at along with the headlines which are also available in spanish for any radio station to take which over 250 are. we turn now to a pivotal, but largely overlooked event in american history. the mass migration of african- americans from the south to the north and west of the country. some 6 million black citizens left the south during the time
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of the great migration, which began around 1915 and continued to into the 1970's bit of the pulitzer prize winning a war journalist and professor isabel wilkerson has spent close to 15 years researching why millions of african-americans decided to leave the towns and farms of the south in such a large scale. her own parents made this journey from georgia and southern virginia to washington, d. -- washington, d.c., where she grew up. her book is just out and called "the warmth of oth suns: the epic story of amica's great migration." shis also the first african- american woman to win a pulitzer prize and is crowned a professor of journalism and director of narrative nonfiction at boston university. she joins me in the studio. welcome. absolutely remarkable book. what inspired you? talk about your own family. >> in some ways, i think that grew up with fact that almost
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born to be writing this book. another migrated from georgia come a small towto washington, d.c.. -- my mother migrated from georgia, and my father migrated from southern virginia. they met in washington, d.c. and met. if it was not for the migration, they would not have met and i would not be here. >> what did they leave? what they were living under a caste system which dictated and controlled every lives of african-americans. in many ways the were seeking political asylum from a caste system that determined that in birmingham, a black person and a white person could not play checkers together. somebody sat down and wrote that out as a law. there were places, quorums in the south where there was actually a black bible and a wide bible to swear to tell the truth on. -- there were courts in the south where there was at the
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black bible and a white bible to swear to tell the truth on. >> can you read the beginning of your book? >> first of all, it speaks to anyone has ever left one place, a place that they have none of theirives for place and nev seen. it speaks to the immigrant heart and reads --" i was free myself to the unknown. i was taking a part of this out to transplant an ailing soil, to see the to grow differently, to see if it could drink of cool rain, and in strange ones, respond to the warmth of other suns, and perhaps to bloom." >> and that is where you got your title "the warmth of other suns: the epic story of america's great migration." so in your book, you follow -- intervied 1200 people? >> stopped counting after 1200 people. >> such a remarkable work and so beautifully drawn. the three different families that you follow illustrate the
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difference migrations. explain. >> what the goal was was to capture the breadth and scope of the migration, which was national from all parts of the south to all parts of the north, midwest and west. i needed three people in order to do that. they would illustrate the three major streams of the migtion the first was up the east coast from georgia, the carolinas, virginia up to washington, d.c., new york, boston. that was the string of my own family. the beautiful part about the migration is that it was very orderly, not just haphazard. the person who represents that migration is a man named george darling who had been working in the citrus industry, a fruit picker, had also had some college experience. when he got out into the groves, he found out they were being mistreated. there were being woefully underpaid. it was dangerous.
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he tried to organize the pickers to get a nickel more. because of that coming his life was threatened. he left florida for the york in 1945. the second stream was from mississippi and arkansas to chicago. that was illustrated by ida may gladney who was a sharecropper's wife, a very good and killing snakes and plowing, but really bad at picking cotton. she was not much help in the field. her husband, she and her two children left mississippi of north after a cousin had been wrongfully accused of a theft he had not committed. what it accused him of stealing turn of the next day, but he had been beaten within an inch of his life. when her has been discovered the
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state his cousin was i he went ho to his wife an said, this is the last crop we are making. they headed north to know what to me -- to milwaukee and then to chicago. the final stream was the one from louisiana and texas out to the west come to los angeles, seattle. it was illustrated by dr. robert pershing doesn't foster. he was a sergeant in the army in the korean war, it got out and found out he could not work as a doctor and his own home town. he set out for a treacherous, and expected the treacherous journey across the desert -- unexpectedly treacherous journey across the desert. i attempted to recreate that myself. i did it with my parents. he drove a buick roadmaster. he said if you had seen it
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coming you would want it, too. he was a character. we set out on this journey. i tell my parents, the rule was only i could drive because that is what dr. foster had bee forced to do. we got to the treacherous part of the journey where it was nighttime and we could not stop because he was not permitted to stop. no one would not take him in. >> because he was black. >> because he was black. he had not anticipated that. i tried to recreate that and i wanted to experience what it was like to have your fingers get swollen from gripping the wheel so long. your eyes grow so heavy they began to ache and yet there is still more road and were hairpin turns and it was dark and you're going miles upon miles. no settlements. even to this day, you're driving around the mountains on two-lane roads. at a certain point, my parents said, stop the car now.
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we must stop. if you wilnot stop, let us out. andre going over the lines clearly i was weary and tired. we had no trouble finding a place because it was no longer 1953, whi was an indication of how far the country has come since that time. >> isabel wilkerson, talk about the clarks and what happened to them. >> the people in the migration experienced such repression and hardship in the south by the time it got to the north, it was the starting to discover what they had to experience. in this case you're speaking of, the clark family, harvey clark and his wife had two adorable children, maybe four years old and six years old. he had a pretty good job, an army veteran and was a bus driver, pretty well paid it that time, talking the early 1950's. he needed to find a place for their family to stay. >> where were they live in?
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>> the south side of chicago. they came from mississippi. they found themselves with very restricted islands within certain sections of a particular city. it did not matter what city, and have been in many. this one happened in chicago. they were sharing an apartment with another family. there were overcrowded as it was. there were so excited they found a new apartment. -they were so excited they found a new apartment. he found an apartment for his family in a suburb called cicero. they were excited because they would get more space for less money. it appeared to be a nice neighborhood. when they tried to move in, there were not permitted to do so. they had to go to court to even move in the belongings. once they had done that, they cod not move in themselves
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because a mob gathered around and prevented them from entering. those people went into the apartment building on the second floor, transacted, through all of their belongings including the piano and sofas and chairs, even pulling out the fixtures ke the radiators, and threw them out the second-floor window. then they said everything on fire. then they set the entire building on fire, which left the white people who are living in the building homeless. that was in the early 1950's. >> that was there welcome to the north. >> yes. >> and access to the other issue of the tremendous risk people-and that brings the other issue of the tremendous risks people were taking. they had no idea what would happen on the other end. >> i think it is an indication of how bad things were where they were living. to go back into the -- one of the goals was to put the reader into this world, which is almost hard to imagine now. it was not that long ago.
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itas in the lifetimes of many people living today. >> which is also why you wanted to do it. >> yes. the idea was to try to make this come alive. the lives that were leading in the south where their every move was dictated by the laws of jim crow, the caste system as i described, there was so a lynching every three days during the time leading up to the great migration. these were -- they had very little in the way of options. everyone was african-american in the south as someone had to make the decision whether there were going to leave or stay. these were the great people who chose to leave. they left every kinfolk, the land they knew, property -- everything. this was before the days of easy long distance, skype, cell phones. they were turning their backs perhaps forever on all they had
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known to make this great risk. and yet, what -- their expectations and greens were quite modest. they were not looking to run four to 500 companies necessarily, -- they were not looking to run fortune 500 companies, necessarily, they wanted to be able to walk to the streets freely, to be allowed to get paid -- the idea being paid fair wages for their hard work was unknown to them in the south. they're also looking for the opportunity for their kids to go to good schools. clearly, they had gone to segregated schools that are separate and not equal. by simply leaving met their lives were going to be modestly better. when we talk about the assessments of the great migration, what did that mean? how successful was it? in some ways, you look at what did these people want. leaving in a way was its own
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point, and they achieved something just by leaving. >> a declaration of independence. >> it was the emancipation proclamation actually put into effect by the people themselves becae it had n been liv up to in the south. >> this migration, of course not just affected the people who went on it, 6 million people, it restructured america. >> it restricterestructured thed the south. the majority of african- americans in the farm products of this migration. -- the majority of african- americans you meet in the north and west are products of this migration. richard wright, the great novelist, product of the great migration. when you talk about music, it is hard to imagine music without the great migration. these people brought with them
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the music and folklore and the sounds of the language and food of their home country, you might say, their homeland, and transformed american culture as we know it. motown would not have existed. the founder, his parents migrated from georgia to detroit. he grew up d decided he wanted go into music. he did not have money to go scatting across the country, so he drew from the people, the children around him diana ross and smokey robinson -- all of these people were children of the great migration. >> b.b. king. >> jazz might not even be what it is today. miles davis, his parents migrated from arkansas to illinois or he had the luxury coared to what he would of had had been grown up in the cotton
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country of arkansas where they work from sunup to sundown. he would not have been able to practice for hours upon hours his music. that would have been a self indulgent luxury. migrating from north carolina to new york when he was 5 years old, he also got the luxury of being a practice for hours on end and never would have been able to do that country music lessons here in new york. they never would have been able to do that in tobacco country of the carolinas. tohn coltrane migrated fro philadelphia when you a 17 and it was there when he got his first alto saxophone. >> you describe driving. others took trains. the seminal role the trains played? yet the organizing -- you have
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the organizing of the borders. >> several things come to mind when you mention trains. this was a fairly orderly restribution of people because they followed -- the route for 9 x of panel. -- the routes were not accidental. people went along the railroad lines, the bus routes and tracks had essentially been made by the people before them. it was very orderly. if you're going to chicago, the people that were african- american were largely from mississippi or arkansas. they're more african-americans in chicago than the entire state of mississippi. that is the state from which they had come, which is astounding. when it comes to the trains, i am reminded that the trains recently freedom trains for them because they represented the
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only way out. they often had a difficult time getting on those trains. the south when to incredible efforts to keep them from going. the authorities would come and arrest people on the railroad platforms. they would board the trains and pull off workers come essentially going in and arresting people who were trying to leave the south because they're losing their cheap labor. many people were not being paid anything except for the right to live on the land the or farming. these people in the south were not one to let these people go easily. it took great courage, planning and fortitude and resolve and determination and desperati for the people to get up the courage in order to leave. in some ways, to defy their own leadership to do so. >> isabel wilkerson, itas been 15 years, it has been your life because your parents did this, but was surprised you most in
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writing this? >> i think was surprised me most was the research actually afford some much of what i grew up with. i grew up in a world in which everybody was from north carolina, south carolina, orgia. people worked really hard, worked multiple jobs. people were very competitive about what -- how other kids would do better in the north. they had to prove their decision was the right decision. failure was not an option for these people. the data shows the people were more likely to remain married, felt it would do better if there were married, that they actually were more likely to be raising their children into-parent households than the african- americans they met in the north, the small creek the people already there. they were making more money in the aggregate than those who were already there and that is because they were not necessarily been paid more per hour, the working multiple jobs.
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the goal would be that we all recognize that we have so much more in common than we have been led to believe. >> thank you for this remarkable work called "the warmth of other suns: the epic story of america's great migration." it is by the pulitzer prize- winning journalist and professor of journalism at boston university isabel wilkerson. th is today's program. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013.


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